New York Times Bestseller • A Best Book of the Year: New York Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, and Kansas City Star • Winner of the Orange Prize
“Breathtaking. . . dazzling.” — New York Times Book Review
“Her best novel yet. . . both epic and deeply personal. . . . This is thought-provoking, and potentially thought-changing, historical fiction at its best.” — Dallas Morning News
In this powerfully imagined, provocative novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is the poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as well as an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself.
Born in the United States, raised in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd lacks a sense of home in either. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen; from errands he runs in the streets; and, one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.
Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There, in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America’s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.
With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Kingsolver has created a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.